TECH

Scientists Hope To Cure 60 Babies With HIV In Three Months

06/03/2014 11:20 GMT | Updated 06/03/2014 11:59 GMT
National Institute of Health

Scientists have announced an ambitious goal to 'cure' 60 young children born with HIV.

A team in Boston announced that the first baby born with the virus had been "functionally cured" of the disease in March 2013.

The same team of scientists in Boston said on Wednesday that a second baby to receive the ground-breaking treatment had now been declared "HIV negative" -- and that the next step is to extend the treatment to 50 other children.

The new technique involves administering an aggressive series of antiretrovirals (ZT, 3TC, and nevirapine) to the baby in the first 48 hours of its life.

The years-long study will track how the 60 selected babies develop over their early lives, and the extent to which the treatment can be considered a long-term cure.

The team itself is reluctant to use the term "cured", however, instead using "HIV negative" and "remission", as the children affected still have to take antiretroviral drugs after the treatment.

Regardless, the impact could be monumental: more than 250,000 children are born with the virus that causes AIDS every year, though the vast majority are not born in the US where the study will be conducted, as drugs already exist to stop HIV positive mothers passing the virus onto their children.

And every sign is that the treatment works. The child scientists said had been cured at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections last year is still free of the virus, nine months on.